Thursday 28th March 2019
Cheltenham is just the first of the spring horse racing festivals. As awesome as that is, the one event that really captivates the British public is the Grand National at Aintree near Liverpool.
A maximum field of 40 horses tackle two circuits and 30 spruce-covered fences in the world’s most famous steeplechase. Literally anything and everything has happened in the Grand National over the years.
This extended four-mile two-furlong Aintree showpiece sees thousands of sports fans descend on Merseyside and around two-thirds of UK adults place a bet. With that in mind, here are four leading fancies for the Grand National of 2019 which is scheduled for 17:15 on Saturday, 6 April.
Last year’s winner is an obvious place to start. Tiger Roll just prevailed in a thrilling finish holding Pleasant Company by a head, and there is a growing sense he could defy history.
Bookmakers like Betfair are scared of the Gordon Elliott-trained nine-year-old, because he has all the attributes to become the first horse since Red Rum to win the Grand National in back-to-back years.
Tiger Roll is a horse for the big occasion. His runaway second victory in the Cross Country Chase over three-and-three-quarter miles last time out was his fourth career success at the Cheltenham Festival.
— CheltenhamRacecourse (@CheltenhamRaces) 13 March 2019
Owners Gigginstown House Stud have won the big one at Aintree in two of the last three years. Tiger Roll is a red-hot 4/1 favourite to enhance their record and this versatile horse has a big chance at equine immortality.
The Grand National fourth of 2018, Anibale Fly, is also set to run again after once again demonstrating his consistency. Also trained in Ireland, but by Tony Martin for JP McManus, the nine-year-old achieved the rare feat of placing both in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and then at Aintree.
Although there is a week less between that huge race and the Grand National this year, Anibale Fly came second at Cheltenham – going one better than 12 months ago. He has clearly been brought along nicely by his shrewd handler for a serious tilt at these spring targets.
Having carried quite a heavy weight last year, it’s no surprise to find Anibale Fly prominent in the Grand Natiional betting again. He is trading around 11/1 in the build-up to the Aintree showpiece and will again shoulder a welter burden on Merseyside.
Another Irish-trained horse towards the head of the Grand National market is Rathvinden. Although a couple of years older than Anibale Fly and Tiger Roll, he hails from the yard of Willie Mullins, who has finally won the Gold Cup after years of trying with Al Boum Photo.
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) 23 February 2019
Rathvinden has proven stamina after winning the four-mile National Hunt Chase for novices and amateur riders at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival. Going to Aintree has been on his agenda ever since.
A winning return to action in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse qualified him for this, and thus Rathvinden is among tips for Grand National 2019 on betting.betfair at 12/1 ante-post. This is because the race has proved a key Irish trial for Aintree hopefuls down the years.
The leading British contender this year lurking down the bottom of the weights is Vintage Clouds for the Grand National-winning trainer of 2013, Sue Smith. This grey gelding was bred and is owned by Trevor Hemmings, a man whose name is synonymous with Aintree success after winning this race three times.
Vintage Clouds was unlucky to just miss out on making the 40-runner field 12 months ago, but placed in both of the Welsh and Scottish Grand National races last season. As he gets a lot of weight from Anibale Fly and other Irish fancies, he is at a distinct advantage.
There was lots to like about the way Vintage Clouds warmed up for Aintree too when finishing second in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Grand National odds of 14/1 are still available on him to go one better.